Artificial Intelligence Helps Business Services Re-imagine Boundaries

Posted: 09/10/2019 - 05:51
A recent European and US survey asked workers the tasks they hated most at work and the impact of automation, robotics and digitalization. Besides attending meetings, the most hated task was reviewing long documents – whether they were digital or paper. And, when asked what they wish to delegate to a robot, data entry topped the list with 48% (U.S.) to 63% (U.K.) of workers saying they’d happily outsource tasks to a robot. 
It is encouraging to see that a majority of workers would welcome the opportunity to delegate annoying tasks to robots, yet for the vast majority, the idea of working with robots is still hypothetical. Let’s be clear – in the world of sourcing, we’re not talking about mechanical robots sitting beside us at our desks. Rather, we’re talking about Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software robots that have become a viable, new digital workforce. We find that enabling employees to work in partnership with digital workers enhances their job satisfaction, allowing them to spend more time on adding value to their businesses where it matters most. 
Business process outsourcing (BPO) providers are beginning to utilize digital workers as they see the value RPA delivers to quickly automate processes. Yet, they are also finding there is potential for RPA projects to fail. 
Human Intelligence a Factor in RPA Success
Many organizations fail to realize the potential of their RPA investment. Hard and soft factors play a role. Next to basic change management failures such as lack of communication, there is often not enough thought put into implementing the new technology in the workplace. Consequently, 41% of companies won’t switch to RPA because of lack of clarity of the business process. Here are common “soft” challenges and the human intelligence impact:
Lack of shared vision = Deficient change management
Lack of use cases = Insufficient planning and involvement
Lack of focus = Negative experience & resource management
Unclean data = Missing automation 
There are counter measures that can lead to successful RPA deployments. For example, the creation of an innovation center to lead the innitiative. With an innovation team, use cases can be fully developed and lead to early success stories. These early successes can then be communicated, taught among the team, then repeated across departments. 
Also, as silly as it may sound, giving digital workers a name and making them more accessible has helped organizations bring the human factor behind the idea of automation. So instead of referring to a digital worker as “bot 1,” call it “Robby” – we’ve found it actually makes a difference. 
There is significant return on investment expected in this collaboration, according to Accenture Research. The firm estimates that the AI and human-machine collaboration can boost revenues by at least 38% by 2022. However, there are also two other factors that BPOs need to be aware of when working with RPA workers. The first is that RPA is not the savior for all processes, and second, automation needs to go beyond simply replacing manual tasks to be successful. 
After automation, BPOs can add value to clients by having a firm grip on the process control to have clear views of inputs, outputs, clean data and content intelligence. 
Content IQ Key to Smarter Digital Workers
With RPA a new tool for sourcing providers, there is opportunity to further expand the boundaries of services by adding AI to digital workers in the form of content IQ skills. Content IQ combines the technology for understanding and processing content with a fresh approach to how organizations can quickly consume and use digital workers, and thereby realize greater benefits. BPOs can continue to maintain control of “human strengths” in the forms of critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity, while the digital workforce maintains its strengths in machine learning, statistical correlation, rapid search, content analysis and repetitive task execution. 
Content IQ skills are available as micro-services that are transaction oriented and simple to use. And, whereas existing capture technology is built to be centrally deployed for the highly skilled capture expert, content IQ skills are built for the business user. 
AI-enabling technologies, such as content IQ skills, are offering exciting opportunities for outsourcing providers. They benefit by its ability to complement any intelligent automation platform, not just RPA platforms, and deliver cognitive skills that perform like humans. 
BPOs can deploy content IQ skills in a variety of content-centric processes such sales order, accounts payable, payroll funding, claims processing and more. As a result, digital workers gain the ability to understand and process a document so it can be routed, data can be extracted and inputted into a system, and a decision can be made to more quickly to add business value.



About The Author

Susanne Richter-Wills's picture

Susanne Richter-Wills has more than 20 years of experience in the process automation market and has held various senior management positions with international BPO providers, as well as product management positions with leading automation software vendors. She has an excellent understanding of the market and the need for companies today to implement intelligent data capture, AI/RPA and process automation solutions to stay competitive. Richter-Wills is a member of IAOP’s European Outsourcing Council where she supports the DACH, RPA and Digital Transformation activities.